University of the Philippines Los Baños

Scientific research in UPLB – and even perhaps in the country - began with the founding of the UP College of Agriculture (UPCA) in 1909. UPCA was at the forefront of agricultural research, experimenting and generating knowledge on tropical agriculture at a time when there was virtually none. The very first UPCA dean included research in the curriculum and required all students to conduct a thesis study as a requirement for graduation.

In time, the College had become well known in scientific and academic communities. With the beginnings of forestry education in the country also originating in Los Baños, and later the formal organization of UPLB as the first autonomous campus of UP, UPLB was soon on its way to building an unparalleled reputation for scientific investigation and instruction in what was to become its traditional stronghold of agriculture and forestry. Today, building on these strengths, UPLB continues to evolve into a university with an institutional identity distinct from but firmly rooted in its origins.

Our culture of research and development (R&D) has continued to flourish, helping define the ‘UPLB brand.’ Over time, we have produced some of the most important technological developments to enhance food production and promote environmental sustainability in this country. Among these important technologies are more than a hundred improved crop varieties; papaya with delayed ripening genes and resistance to ringspot virus; tissue-cultured and virus-resistant banana varieties; production and postharvest protocols; biotechnologies; farm machinery; dairy products; and wines and juices from local and indigenous fruits.

Moreover, because of the University’s expertise and credibility, we are also engaged in policymaking as many of our graduates hold leadership, managerial, or administrative positions in local and national research, development, and extension (RDE) agencies. We have consistently taken the lead in national research and development programs as well as in the formulation of RDE policies in agriculture, forestry, veterinary, and environmental sciences.

These are the reasons why we are regarded as the Philippines’ preeminent research and learning institution in agriculture and allied sciences. Apart from its traditional strengths, UPLB has also become an emerging center of excellence in engineering, information and communication technology, and in the natural and social sciences. As such, it is expected to play a greater role in charting a path towards overall national transformation and national development. This transformation and development should provide every Filipino adequate access to food and social amenities, minimize absolute poverty, empower communities to shape their future as well as promote environmental protection and ecological restoration.

S&T in our lives

We can very well say that UPLB has contributed significantly to scientific and technological discovery in the country. Our scientists have made seemingly impossible feats and brilliant discoveries that have revolutionized our lives. Yet, despite all our efforts, more is demanded of us to increase several-folds the generation of innovative production technologies and information if we are to accelerate our rate of socioeconomic growth.

S&T is a crucial component of all efforts aimed at fostering growth and socio-economic development of nations. Policymakers in the land are in consensus that the Philippines needs to address a shortfall in innovation as well as produce more S&T workers if it ever hopes to catch up with the rest of the world. This is illustrated in the results of the 2012 Global Innovation Index, where the Philippines ranked 95th out of 141 countries in the field of innovation, underscoring the need to work on enhancing the country’s capabilities in S&T.

Though the country’s 2013 ranking inched higher, it still stayed within the bottom tier. It is patently clear that there must be a sustainable strategic plan to address the R&D gaps and cultivate a national innovation ecosystem for S&T.

We have often said that the key to addressing this shortfall is more investments in S&T. As a country, we have suffered much in this regard as more of our resources are channelled to other areas deemed equally necessary by our government and policymakers. We ought to move within what we are capable of doing and with whatever limited resources we have.

At the University, we have looked inward and conducted anumber of conversations among ourselves to ask what is it that we can do within the limits of our capabilities, and possibly consolidate our efforts into something that would bring more impact than individual efforts ever could. And it is in this collective frame of mind that we have determined that multi-, intra- and interdisciplinary efforts could be a game changer for us.

Multi-, intra- and interdisciplinary efforts

To enhance UPLB’s relevance and service to the Filipino nation and as a response to emerging global issues, the University has adopted interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in implementing its researches and programs in collaboration with local and international partners. The interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches entail the complementation of expertise among various disciplines in a synergistic manner to make UPLB’s RDE programs more holistic, more inclusive, and more responsive to the needs of society for comprehensive solutions to its complex problems and challenges. The University is publicly presenting 18 Interdisciplinary Studies Centers and Programs in an S&T public forum and exhibit on March 4-5 at the SMX Convention Hall, Pasay City.

These Centers are expected to 1) adopt and practice interdisciplinary conduct of intensive basic and applied research; 2) develop a five-year interdisciplinary RDE agenda in support of the attainment of the Philippine development goals; 3) develop, package, and propose programs for internal and external funding; and 4) pursue local, national, regional and global linkages with respect to strengthening and expanding interdisciplinary studies.